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Law & Order: SBNation- The Case Of Carolina Vs The Islanders

The latest episode asks the question: Should you cheer for a bunch of jerks or that Bunch of Jerks?

In the NHL Playoffs, some fan bases don’t get to participate. Who will help these fans decide who to cheer for? The SBN Unit is looking out for them. This is their story. (click here)

The case before the court today, is to determine who Canucks fans should cheer for in the Second Round. The New York Islanders have a past with the Canucks, though a lot of you weren’t even alive back then, while the Carolina Hurricanes have been one of the true good stories of this NHL season. We welcome Dominik Jansky of Lighthouse Hockey and Andrew Ahr of Canes Country, to make the case of why Canucks fans shouldn’t cheer for their respective opponents.

First, Mr Ahr on the case against the Islanders:

Why should you root against the Islanders? Is that a rhetorical question? I think a more apt question as we prepare to kick off the Eastern Conference semi-finals is, “Why should anyone root for the Islanders?“ I implore the defendant to give one rational reason why any hockey fan would subject themselves to such fandom.

As much as I don’t want to, I guess we have to talk about the low-hanging fruit that is the John Tavares situation. The superstar gave all of himself to a franchise for nine grueling seasons that bore just one (1) playoff series win. Talk about wasting elite talent.

And then when the superstar decides to sign in Toronto to play in his hometown and fulfill a childhood dream, he’s shamed and ridiculed for exercising his rights in free agency. Plastic snakes? Really guys? Come on. I have nothing else to say about this — the topic speaks for itself.

Furthermore… why would anyone want to be a fan of a team that plays in the Barclays Center? The New York Islanders…in Brooklyn? Their biggest fan is a family sized SUV who has season tickets for the best seat in the house (And here comes the typical, “At least we have fans!” response. Please, show me a team in the NHL in the middle of a decade long playoff drought who sells out the building during the regular season. See Pittsburgh and Chicago pre-dynasty). But seriously, why is that Honda still there after all the ridicule you’ve received for it? Is there something I don’t understand about the situation? Just replace it with seats! Hopefully that car alarm doesn’t go off on national TV this series — boy would that be embarrassing (that actually happened this season, look it up).

If you needed yet another reason to dislike the Island, look no further than the bench boss himself, Barry Trotz. After finally getting over the hump in Washington, he made an unexpected exit. Why, you ask? Well, because they wouldn’t give him enough money. It wasn’t a contract dispute as much as it was a breach of contract on Trotz’ behalf. There was a clause in his deal that entitled him to a raise should he win the big one. When that day came, he decided he wanted even more money, so he up and left, leaving a Stanley Cup champion roster and an unfinished contract. That’s what we’re working with on the Islanders bench — a mercenary willing to coach for the highest bidder.

On the other bench, we have a Stanley Cup Champion and Hurricanes franchise legend who carries one of the most gleaming reputations in the NHL. Rod “The Bod” Brind’Amour. “The Captain” was a hardworking, no-nonsense guy during his storied playing career, and that much is still true as a bench boss. How many NHL head coaches take the training camp fitness test and pass with flying colors? Moreover, how many rookie head coaches lead their team to the playoffs, and win the first round in seven games against the defending Stanley Cup champions?

Above all else, Brind’Amour is a players coach. The Hurricanes would run through a wall for this coach, and he’d do the same for them. He commands the players’ unwavering respect because he’s been there before. And when he wins the big one, he doesn’t leave for more money. He didn’t as a player, and he won’t as a coach. There’s something really special brewing here in Carolina, and we would love for you all to be a part of it.

I rest my case. (click)

A compelling argument, but Mr Jansky might put this in a different light:

Before I get started, your honor, I trust a full and proper voir dire can take place here and thus, if that is the case, I now issue peremptory challenges to any member of the jury pool who still holds 1982 against my client. Look, we are sorry about that. But it was kind of inevitable. Roger Nielson’s boys went as far as possible -- farther, you might add -- and it was important that the Islanders continue compiling that dynasty so that your pompous rivals from Alberta can never claim the Best Team of the ‘80s title. (No, Steve Smith brain fart or not, four championships in five years does not qualify...we call that dynasty interruptus here.)

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, I thank the rest of you for hearing our case. Please tell the others we mean no harm and still regard Harold Snepsts fondly. What a ‘stache. What a dome. What a name. Good defenseman too.

Okay, on to the opening argument. Under instructions from the judge, I was told I could bring up unlikeable players (they have several), history, where they’re from, and more.

But we are not ones to whine about “southern hockey” and cite attendance figures or other things to bash our opponents. Some of the best playoffs have featured southern U.S. teams on wild rides giving a college football-like atmosphere (or we’d say a Nassau Coliseum-like atmosphere) to their runs. We begrudge no market that embraces hockey. We don’t care whether a Canadian- or U.S.-based team wins the Cup. We’re not like that.

That said, come on. The Hurricanes were not planted in Raleigh but rather stolen in the middle of the night from Hartford and dropped in Greensboro. They made it to two Stanley Cup finals in their first 10 years, winning the second one in 2006. Do you know how badly that burned longtime Whalers fans? And now, only this year, do they bother to acknowledge their Brass Bonanza past by cynically wearing and selling Whalers jerseys for a merchandising score?

Unacceptable. Dirty. Bush league.

Oh, and to double down on the sartorial insults, now the Hurricanes have decided to take this whole playoff run in their third jerseys? Really? You have a beautiful crimson (nevermind the “toilet bowl” logo...hurricanes aren’t exactly pretty) for your primary color and you decide to instead subject all of us to the NHL’s 18th black jersey? That stuff was cool in 1988 when the Kings did it. Or in 1997 when only a third of the league’s teams had a, to quote Spinal Tap, “none more black” look.

Worse, this was apparently done because their owner really likes those. Their owner, Tom Dundon, is kind of a dick. (Or maybe he’s not. Who knows? They’re all billionaires manipulating our emotions with their play toys so let’s move on.)

But back to the franchise’s playoff history. Sure, this year ended a nine-year playoff drought. I’m sure that sucked. But let’s look at Carolina’s last three playoff appearances:

>Lost Conference Final

>Won Stanley Cup

>Lost Stanley Cup Final

Seriously? I’m not sure “drought” is the right word when every time you do appear on the scene it’s with the rarified majesty and beauty of a total solar eclipse. How about you get hammered before May for once? How about you experience the bipolar ride of making the playoffs on the last day and then being done a week later? How about these people enjoy some “early” playoff disappointment for once by bowing out in the second round?

Because do you want to talk about droughts? The Islanders had recent droughts of seven and five years without playoffs, and they went TWENTY-THREE years in between playoff series wins. The Hurricanes, by comparison, deserve no sympathy.

Now on to the players:

  • I don’t know which Staal the Hurricanes still have but they’re all inherently creepy. You know their Staal is a cold-blooded murderer. (shocking click)
  • Petr Mrazek? Jerk and bad teammate. These are facts.
  • Justin Williams, “Mr. Game 7” -- OH REALLY?! I’ve been a fan a longtime and let me tell you, beautiful and honorable ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the ONLY Mr. Game 7 in history is MISTER PAVEL BURE AM I WRONG? (At this point the Judge has to call for order, as the gallery has begun high-fiving and chanting “BURE! BURE! BURE!”)
  • Nino Niederreiter? Let me tell you something about this whiny noodle-armed dweeb. The Islanders did him and his aggressive agent a favor by keeping him in the NHL all season in his draft+2 year and he managed ONE goal and one concussion in 55 games. The next season, when the lockout ended at mid-year and the Isles opened the season with him assigned to the AHL he demanded a trade. Entitled much?
  • Sebastian Aho? They’ve got the wrong one. The evil one. He’s a counterfeit and a delinquent and ours is much more charming.
  • Greg “if that’s your real name” McKegg. Greg McKegg. I mean, who does that?

Last but not least, I must give a shout out to their play-by-play man, John Forslund, who -- those of you north of the border may not know -- is assigned by NBC to do the national broadcasts for this series. Yes, that’s right, the Hurricanes’ main announcer is doing the national coverage of this series. This might be acceptable if he were a classic, outstanding caller who carried the score and the trajectory of the game in the modulation of his voice as he narrates events. But no, this man fills his call with irritating catchphrases like “BUT [GOALIE] SAYS NO!” and “HE MELTS IT DOWN” and “THAT’S HOCKEY, BABY!” Over, and over, and over.

I ask you, judge and jurors of Nucks Misconduct: Let this otherwise lovable “bunch of jerks” advance no further. (click)

Judge Basky sequesters the jury so that they can begin their deliberations:

Juror #1- Can we throw them both out of the court? No? Ok then. Carolina did steal a whole hockey team and the Islanders did beat the Canucks in ‘82 and I watched it. This comes down to who really deserves a team and a cup. The Islanders in Brooklyn is as wrong as the Whalers in Carolina. Both teams have played and beat Edmonton in the Stanley Cup Finals which is a plus. The fact that Dave Babych played for both the Canucks and Whalers.....I choose Carolina.

Juror #2- The main difficulty in choosing the biggest culprit here is that neither of them ignites much passion out west. When it comes to these teams: Who cares?

So, they get to make their arguments, and see who is the most entertaining: this is an entertainment product after all.

I’m giving points for reference to the Brass Bonanza, mostly because it’s the Ray Ferraro theme on Vancouver sports radio. Also true: too many teams have gone to black uniforms, and it’s better to be a leader than a faddish follower. I’m also keen on teams and fan bases paying their dues, and it’s a good argument that Carolina needs some more pain to get my sympathy. On the other hand, Rod Brind’Amour grew up in Campbell River, and led the ‘Canes to their only Cup; so that’s a small town BC boy makes good story I can appreciate.

When it comes to the Islanders, I’m pretty ambivalent. Don’t really care about Trotz, Tavares, or which part of the New York Megaplex anyone plays for or in. I’m mildly amused that their best player blossomed after leaving the Oilers, but aside from that can’t muster much interest at all.

I guess I’ll go with Rod Brind’Amour as the most interesting thing in this series, and cheer for Carolina.

Juror #3- So...have to dissent with the majority. Not just because a hung jury means more free catered meals (it does, doesn’t it?), but specifically because Brind’Amour already has a Cup. Getting another one as coach is just malevolent greed and can’t be cheered for - as Tort law forbids. More to the point - at least the coach for the Isles hasn’t won a Cup.

Oh wait...the Caps fired him for winning a Cup with Washington. But still... that’s a healthy precedent. For hockey. For Canada. For all the golfers in Canada just freshly on the greens. Why? Because if the Nucks win the Cup with Green, they can fire him with impunity. Or with punity. Whatever.

Therefore, without further disinterest, I’m dedicating my lethargic ambivalent inaudible cheer for the Isles. And Trotz. For no reason. However, if the esteemed Judge of All Things Metal & Hockey deems to throw them both out of court, I would support that. Just as long as the free catered meals keep arriving. (click)

The jury is called back into the courtroom to give their findings to the Judge.

Judge Basky: Has the jury reached a verdict?

Juror #3: Uh, not really... We have a majority but not consensus.

Judge Basky: I see, do I need to make a ruling myself?

Juror #3: That depends. What’s on the dinner menu tonight?

Judge Basky: (calls over the bailiff, who whispers something to the Judge) Apparently it’s Eggplant Parmagiana.

Juror #3: Oh... wow. Well then, whatever you gotta do, Judge.

Judge Basky: (sighing) Fine, in light of the memories of 1982, this court finds for the Carolina Hurricanes being the team the Canucks fans should cheer for. This case is dismissed. (click)

Thanks a ton to Dominik (@LHHockey) and Andrew (@andew_ahr) for their help with this. Follow them on Twitter, dammit!